In early February 2020, the U.S. announced that a group of Americans returning from China were potential COVID-19 carriers. While the local and state officials worked to monitor the carriers, the rest of America looked to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance and answers. But what happens when the agencies you depend on inspire a lack of confidence and worry, instead of reassurance amid a fast-spreading global pandemic?
From mishandling of data and tests to lack of information transparency and urgency, bureaucracy with the President’s office, and overall disagreement with many other scientists, it quickly became apparent to many that the CDC was learning on the job. Now, many people are wondering who has the power to steer the ship during the pandemic.
Show Of Hands For CDC Support
CDC allies believe that the CDC and WHO are not entirely responsible since they only comprise one part of a massive network of health agencies. Moreover, no one was prepared for the ferocity, scope, and speed of the pandemic events. Also, in the past and present, government control has created some bureaucracy that has interfered with the CDC processes’ efficacy.
For instance, President Trump’s mandate to hospitals to send the coronavirus data to the new public data hub system overrode the CDC processes that have worked well for centuries. The new system presented data-rich in errors and inconsistencies. But despite this evidence and support, many professional health workers and American citizens seem to have lost faith in the CDC entirely.
“The CDC is no longer the reliable go-to place,” laments the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Dr. Ashish Jha.
“Here is an agency that has been waiting its entire existence for this moment, and then they flub it. It is very sad. That is what they were set up to do,” adds a former associate commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Peter Lurie. He has previously worked with the CDC.
Like Dr. Ashish Jha and Dr. Peter Lurie, Americans did not expect to experience frustration and worry. They wanted transparency, honesty, safety, and provision of consistent and accurate information about the virus. What did the CDC do to inspire such a loss of confidence from the American Republic? Here are some of their most significant inconsistencies with regards to how they handled the pandemic.
Who Has The Power? Covid Data And Mortality Rates
Medical data has enormous implications. The faster medical data is provided, the faster decisions are made regarding possible treatment methods and prevention measures. That is why the WHO and CDC are responsible for providing the most current yet understandable data concerning any disease. More than 3000 employees in the agencies are currently working on responding to the virus, analyzing data, and performing other lab work.
Nothing is more vital for the agency than getting accurate and immediate information about the coronavirus’ spread, the people it affects, and the methods of treatment that prove to be more efficient. But the CDC relies on information assembly, which has proven inadequate to uphold the agency’s responsibilities. Real-time data that the nation can rely on should be comprehensive and integrated. However, the data produced by the CDC has presented loopholes and loss of accuracy.
Let’s look at the number of infected cases as an example. At the beginning of the pandemic, when the CDC started contact-tracing the travelers from China, they sent emails to the state officials. As a result, states received emails every day, some of which had incorrect dates and times. Some of the names listed reported that they had been to China over three years ago. In some cases, the emails were sent to the wrong states. By mid-April, at least 268,000 passengers had been screened for the virus. Only 14 cases were reported from this tally.
The errors and lapses in communication from the CDC ensured that the data collected was inconclusive. In their defense, the agency reported that the methods used to collect data could not stop the virus’s spread because of other factors like high travel and the possibility of asymptomatic spread.
The Effects Of The CDC Lies
If the CDC were efficient in their data collection methods, the information would have proven sufficient to put public health resources to fair use. Additionally, the lack of efficiency the CDC offered, forced hospitals to start taking charge of their processes. Hospitals like the Michigan health care system started calling neighboring hospitals and care facilities, asking if they could accommodate patients overload in their facility.
The CDC could not record the number of deaths and suspected cases as they mounted. This provided false truths regarding the coronavirus fatality rate, which the CDC initially speculated to be 3.4 percent. Now the CDC reports that the fatality rate is at 0.3 percent. By this point, the CDC, which was collecting most of its data from the WHO, proved unreliable for providing consistent, real-time, and accurate data.
The coronavirus did test the CDC and WHO to great lengths. The CDC experts provided a significantly precise test in January. However, it was too difficult to use and, thus, insufficient. But this was nothing compared to the contamination of the manufactured test kits that were initially sent to the state due to the implementation of sloppy lab practices. This mistake is believed to have delayed the rollout of the test to the masses. In addition, the administration failed to speed up the academic and commercial labs. And when the initial tests determined that about 650 patients were exposed to the first COVID patient, the CDC only agreed to test 256 in the group.
When testing guidelines were provided, the agency failed to emphasize the need to test asymptomatic patients until late March. As early as February, doctors from China were already making it clear that carriers could spread the virus without showing any symptoms.
CDC further expressed inconsistencies in mid-February when it announced the likelihood of conducting tests among people that presented flu-like symptoms. This effort never came to fruition. Former President Trump added to the aggravation of the CDC and WHO lies when he asserted prematurely that any person that wanted to get a test could get one. This is not to mention the CDC data system being insufficient to determine the number of people receiving the tests.
Recently, media reports stipulate that the agency breached standard practice while tracking the tested Americans. Data from antibody tests was combined with the diagnostic tests. This can indicate past infections in tabulated data. When the CDC guidance said that coronavirus patients had a fever and respiratory symptoms, the first patients tested at the Margaret Mary Community Hospital had headaches, nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea. Additionally, the recommendation that schools only close if there were evidence of substantial community transmission if someone had tested positive was unsubstantiated.
Information on the WHO and the CDC sites regarding wearing protective gear has been the same, albeit relaxed. At the start of the pandemic, the agencies determined that masks were only necessary for health care workers. The two agencies first advised health workers to wear N95 respirators. The masks are said to filter 95 percent of airborne particles, making sense since the virus was speculated to be airborne.
However, when supplies started to reduce in March, the CDC determined that fewer protective masks like homemade masks could replace the surgical masks unless the medical procedures could aerosolize the virus. This bred mistrust among the health workers, especially after a mask analysis, determined that the respirator masks and the N95 masks are superior to the cloth and surgical masks. These CDC lies caused doctors and nurses’ infection that treated their first patients in Margaret Mary Community Hospital in rural Batesville.
The health workers had been following the guidance that the CDC had provided for over two months. Later, the CDC reversed their earlier recommendation that Americans did not require any masks. As case numbers continued to rise, many research scientists started to show that masks were perfect for providing some protection against infection.
Moreover, it was becoming evident that people without symptoms were also highly infectious. These people were likely to spread the virus while talking or breathing. The fact that the virus was considered airborne also solidified the need for masks for every American. However, the announcement about these new findings was delayed because the government and the CDC were worried that the public would not receive the news in kind.
They were right: these inconsistencies in communication and information guidelines led to a cumulative effect of mistrust and public confusion. Besides, the CDC or WHO did not provide any information that explained how the masks would prevent the spread of the disease.
One final inconsistency evidenced by the CDC is that the virus was believed to have less effect on young people. At the start of the pandemic, it was announced that the elderly and sickly were more susceptible to the virus.
On the contrary, young people had health freedom because they were at significantly low risks of contracting the virus. But, from recent reports, at least 12 percent of the COVID-19 patients require hospitalization. Among those, one in every five patients, 20 percent, is between 20 and 44 years. This clearly shows that the CDC did not have the correct information regarding how the virus affected the different individuals.
Are The CDC Inconsistencies A Threat To Public Health?
The CDC was built to provide rapid responses. Its workers are some of the best disease detectives in the nation, expertly skilled in researching the virus. So why was the CDC providing inconclusive tests? Former CDC employees believe the agency’s culture was to blame.
Their culture is averse to risk, and they are highly wired to seek perfection. Therefore, the agency might not be suited to provide quick and evolving solutions to a pandemic like the coronavirus. This might have been the most significant contributor to the agency’s failure to provide practical diagnostic tests.
Additionally, the agency believes that the workers’ overworked state led to the breach of the testing practice. Early accurate tests could have no doubt brought to light the scope of the outbreak. In turn, this would have presented opportunities for the perfect prevention measures to be implemented.
How are Americans supposed to trust a health agency that offers coronavirus data slower than a Seattle teenager’s website? These inconsistencies have made it difficult for medical workers, policymakers, and government officials to work effectively.
Elton was first a general writer. But after battling a weight management problem, he became passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Now he works out 5 times a week, lives off keto, and writes about health.
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